For the sponge:
- In a large bowl, combine 1/2 cup of the flour, the 1/2 cup warm water, and the yeast. Beat with a wooden spoon until smooth. Cover bowl loosely with plastic wrap. Let sponge stand at room temperature for 2 to 8 hours to ferment.
- Gradually stir in the 1 cup warm water, the 2 teaspoons salt, and just enough of the remaining flour to make a dough that pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead in enough of the remaining flour to make a soft dough that is smooth and elastic (3 to 5 minutes total). Place dough in a lightly greased bowl, turning once. Cover; let rise in a warm place until double in size (about 1 hour).
- Grease two large baking sheets; set aside. Punch dough down. Let rest 10 minutes. Divide dough into six equal pieces, using oiled hands, if needed. Place three dough pieces on each baking sheet. Press each piece of dough into a 5-inch circle, making sure there are 2 to 3 inches of space between each dough circle. Brush dough circles with the olive oil. Using the tips of your fingers, make 1/2-inch deep indents over the surface of the dough. Cover with plastic wrap and let stand in a warm place for 30 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. If necessary, re-indent tops of dough rounds. Sprinkle dough rounds lightly with freshly ground black pepper and, if desired, additional coarse salt.
- Bake about 15 minutes* or until lightly browned on the bottom, checking after 8 minutes and popping any large air bubbles with a sharp knife. Cool for 15 minutes on wire racks. Serve warm or at room temperature.
From the Test Kitchen
You can also check the doneness of the focaccia. Its internal temperature should register 205 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer.
To make one large focaccia, lightly grease a 12-inch pizza pan. Prepare dough as directed through Step 2. Turn risen dough out into prepared pan and gently press dough to edges of pan, using oiled hands as needed. Continue as directed in Steps 4 and 5, except bake for 15 to 20 minutes* or until golden, checking after 8 minutes and popping any large air bubbles with a sharp knife. Use two large spatulas to transfer focaccia to a wire rack; cool for 15 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Nutrition Facts (Mini Focaccia)
- Per serving:
- 163 kcal cal.,
- 2 g fat
- (0 g sat. fat,
- 0 mg chol.,
- 324 mg sodium,
- 32 g carb.,
- 1 g fiber,
- 5 g pro.
- Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet